We’re well past the middle of November, which for me means that it’s time to reflect and study on the year that’s about to fade out, for good, I must say. If you think this might be a tad too early a time for self-reflection, you’re probably right. But I can’t cram all the year’s worth of reflection during the last week of December. There’s so much going on anyway!
I’ve been experimenting with this new schedule the past couple of years and have found it much more effective and most importantly, stress-free compared to the usual practice. It might be because my process of self-reflection starts from the outside-in, meaning, I’ll work through the external factors before moving onto the internal or highly personal aspects of my life.
For example, I’ll be focusing on aspects such as my business, my work with my most important client (my employer), and my relationships with friends, acquaintances, and peers. Post that; I’ll focus on the internal factors, the highly personal things such as health, wealth, wisdom, and how I’ve improved as a person this year. As you can tell, it’s quite an elaborate process.
Yesterday as I reflected on my business, I realized I’ve been running the company like a purist coach instead of an entrepreneur! Precisely why I haven’t been able to scale it to the potential the business is capable of becoming.
Let me tell you why that matters…
Walk into any networking evening (online or offline) like a BNI, Rotary, Lion’s club meeting or you name it, you will bump into a couple of dozen life or business coaches who are offering the same services. How the hell are you going to choose the best one for yourself? Also, if they’re hanging out at these networking events, chances are they’re all looking for more clients, which begs the question — are they doing as well as they could be?
The coaching, speaking, and training fraternity is riddled with professionals who aren’t doing so well financially. The problem — they run their businesses like a practitioner instead of an entrepreneur. The former refuses to look beyond his/her coaching expertise and stay stuck at superficial methods of marketing, such as posting random or even useful content on social media, make a lot of noise, and think that’s all there is to it.
I’ve never been fond of the usual practices that coaches, consultants, and speakers indulge in, but didn’t know any better either. Working with my mentor has been an enlightening experience for me and to be honest, the only investment I should have ever made to educate myself on growing my business. That’s a bold claim from someone who spends an average of $607 every month in professional development!
The biggest mistake helping professionals make is that they cater to all who have the means to pay them. Not precisely an award-winning strategy by any means, but it is what it is. That’s what I focused my energies on this year — clarifying the audience that I want to serve truly. I also realized that half of the people I was coaching (mostly pro-bono) weren’t the folks I wanted to coach anyway! So, I fired them.
The other great insight I’ve had was building an email list and using direct response marketing as the only marketing method. For small businesses, brand marketing doesn’t work. We aren’t Pepsi, Coca-Cola, or Budweiser. I’m still new to the process, and though my list is tiny right now, I interact with them multiple times a week. Something that most people don’t do. Heck, they might not even have a list, to begin with!
Of course, growing an email list comes with its own set of challenges, but it’s entirely doable if you think through the process as an entrepreneur. More specifically, as someone who wants to establish a profitable business offering valuable services instead of a coach or consultant trying to build a practice. Now, this could mean treading in the land of squeeze pages, marketing automation, measuring open and click rates, audience interaction and so forth. All that is and should be part and parcel of running a profitable business. Else, you’ll struggle like the million life coaches and business consultants out there.
Developing an entrepreneurial mindset has been one of my biggest revelations and challenges this year. But it makes a lot of sense as I now see the value in understanding who my audience is and serving them with value by interacting with them frequently. And then, you invest in a lot of time and effort to analyze, test, measure, and keep at it until you achieve a breakthrough or get to the next level.
That’s what influential entrepreneurs do — market and sell their services effectively. And if that’s beneath you, in the words of my mentor, “be ready to raise skinny kids.”